back to article Mummy, what's the point of Evgeny Morozov's tedious columns?

I often find myself mystified by Evgeny Morozov and his writings. I find it terribly difficult to work out what he's actually for, or what worldview it is that he thinks he's propagating. Unless, of course, it's just to piss off the libertarians or perhaps to show us how clever a Morozov can be in uncovering the feet of clay …

  1. IT Hack

    Isn't this better suited in the comments section of the Guardian article?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @ IT Hack

      "Isn't this better suited in the comments section of the Guardian article?"

      You can go back there if you want but now the reg has an article for you to visit!

      1. IT Hack

        Re: @ IT Hack

        @ codejunkey

        Given that this is an attempt at a rebutal the logical place to put that rebuttal would be...? Yes. The original article where the person being rebutted has an opportunity to reply to the rebuttal.

        It really is that simple.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @ IT Hack

          Yes if it is a direct rebutal and maybe he did. On the other hand it is plausible that Tim would like a further discussion with a different crowd. Of course on the guardian he could have a 'discussion' with 2 right wing people and the entirety of the green party support / a few labour but there does seem to be a little more distribution on the reg. Also while intelligent or at least reasoned argument can occasionally be found on the guardian it does seem to be less frequent than on here.

          Personally I would have liked tim to give a little intro to who this guy is even if he seems to make little sense. But I can understand the desire to get the opinion of another audience, especially when the original article is on a site dedicated to a very narrow world view.

          1. IT Hack

            Re: @ IT Hack

            @ codejunkey

            In this there is no maybe. Either he did or he did not.

            To me it is a rebuttal. Direct or otherwise. It is still a rebuttal. If Mr Worstall has given Mr Morozov a link to his article (and stating in the article that he had given Morozov a link) so Morozov has an opportunity to reply fair enough. But that is also not the case.

            The point is not a discussion with a "2 right wing people and the entirety of the green party support/a few labour" but rather with Morozov.

            As for the level of intelligence of people who read the Guardian I have no idea as I don't read that paper/comments section on even an irregular basis.

            In terms of an intro, well at least we agree on something! ;)

            In terms of other opinion I would point out that if that was the case then this article would be an embarrassment to any real journalist. Because what has been written is in essence a hatchet job.

            Really the reg ought to stay away from surious op-eds and concentrate on the stuff that the Reg is good at.

          2. Tim Worstal
            FAIL

            Re: @ IT Hack

            Apologies, thought people knew who he was. One of these deep thinkiers on matters tech, bit like Jaron Lanier. He always comes across to me as somone who would say "Yes, yes, OK, so we've got our Jetson's style rocket packs now but what about the number of cats not being spayed?, eh, eh!"

            1. dogged

              Re: @ IT Hack

              whataboutery is an infallible sign of somebody with no argument and no inclination to work at constructing one.

              It is often associated with jerking knees.

              1. Graham Marsden

                @dogged - Re: @ IT Hack

                > whataboutery is an infallible sign of somebody with no argument and no inclination to work at constructing one.

                Sorry, were you talking about Morozov or Worstall...?

              2. h4rm0ny
                Pint

                Re: @ IT Hack

                Isn't Whatboutery (lovely word) just the inverse of another fallacy? Namely "Yes, yes, inequality in houses is growing but what about parity in Internet access?"

                Basically, fallacy either way - just depends whether you want to say things are good or bad. The only way you make it not a fallacy is to start working out ways of comparing the different whatabouts. Does equality of internet access between Bill Gates and you compensate for or outweigh the difference in your house values, for example.

                Without a basis for such comparison, whataboutery in either direction is essentially the speaker's take on half-full / half-empty.

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

            3. IT Hack

              Re: @ IT Hack

              @ Tim Worstall

              Up vote for the Jetsons. Dammit.

    2. John Sanders
      Flame

      The Guardian...

      Chances of a non-marxistst socialist-agreeing comment staying on the guardian's comments for more than two minutes are slim to none.

    3. Nym

      Post It In Comments

      I think a rediscussion of this in continually in order until a fundamental and serious problem is solved. This is an attempt to work toward a kind of language that can study values (and therefore language patterns and their associated protocols--a hard protocol is exactly similar to a computer program, a soft protocol involves judgment, and that involves acquired prejudices). Most of us can't find publication when we seek it (and many writers don't seek publication)--this kind of presentation and informational 'networking'* are necessary for society itself to recognize problems# and work on them.

      *electronic networking although touted as such is not societal networking

      #since the purpose of authority is to maintain stability, authority is the least capable of such analyzation.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evgeny Who?

    see Icon

    queue Sriesand Effect and subsequent large increase in hits on his stuff.

    Was that what you inteneded?

    I certainly had never heard of him before your article.

    Perhaps you write as him under an alias and have been seeing a reduction in page hits (and income) so you needed to do something to compensate?

    {cynical? moi?}

    1. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: Evgeny Who?

      I doubt that El Reg is paying him based on page views. Perhaps Worstall has some other motivation. For example, perhaps Morozov's contention is completely wrong, and Worstall wants to refute it?

      Just a thought.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Evgeny Who?

        >>"Perhaps Worstall has some other motivation."

        Worstall is a true believer - promulgation of views is a reward in itself.

        The odd thing is that I'm pretty Right-Wing myself and have only a vague awareness of this Morozov person and the Guardian, but I have found myself pointing out flaws in both of Worstall's recent opinion pieces.

        1. John Sanders
          Holmes

          Re: Evgeny Who?

          Let's call Worstall and the guardian for what they are, shouldn't we?

          Worstall is a marxist-socialist type, and the guardian is marxist-socialist media (pravda style!).

          There you go, when people have information they can make informed decisions.

          We're surrounded by marxists-commies in media and politics who have an opinion on how other people should live their lives, and obviously that it should be them who make those decisions and be paid for it with taxpayer money.

          When those decisions prove not to work, they demand more power, more money and those dissenting to be silenced.

          Rinse and repeat.

          1. IT Hack

            GOP

            So all those wonderful Talibaptist types in the US who want to legislate the level of control a woman has regarding her body are...?

          2. Tim Worstal

            Re: Evgeny Who?

            "Worstall is a marxist-socialist type"

            Hoo, boy, I really am going to have to sort out my writing style, aren't I?

            1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

              Re: Evgeny Who?

              I think your safer assuming a commentard was being commentardish and carrying on regardless.

            2. h4rm0ny

              Re: Evgeny Who?

              >>"Hoo, boy, I really am going to have to sort out my writing style, aren't I?"

              I shouldn't worry. I think the only possible way they could have reached that conclusion is by not reading your article in the first place.

              Or I suppose not knowing what both Socialist and Marxist mean.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Evgeny Who?

                "Or I suppose not knowing what both Socialist and Marxist mean."

                Or PBCAK

            3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Evgeny Who?

              "Worstall is a marxist-socialist type"

              More a marx-fraternalist type

            4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Evgeny Who?

              "Worstall is a marxist-socialist type"

              Hoo, boy, I really am going to have to sort out my writing style, aren't I?

              Well, it's true in the sense that "capitalist" is a type discussed by (among others) Marx and various socialists. He didn't claim Tim is a Marxist, or a socialist, or even a fellow-traveller.

              I prefer to think of it as a nice little bit of trolling, m'self.

          3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: Evgeny Who?

            I can't tell if this is sarcasm or if you really think that Worstall ( who believes in the free market ) is a Marxist.

          4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Evgeny Who?

            "Worstall is a marxist-socialist type"

            Troll of the day!

      2. auburnman

        Re: motivation

        Perhaps Worstall was due to submit a column to el Reg, and was a bit stuck for content?

  3. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Bad choice

    The mistake you made was to read any of the Guardian's non-news articles. I used to subscribe to the paper edition but gave up after a two page spread with pictures* of "health clinic " enema therapy. WTF!

    I was also peeved at constantly seeing 16yo girls modelling jeans that cost £400. How the hell is that relevant to my lifestyle? Don't get me started on the stupid columnists.

    Now I just browse all the main news outlets and try to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    *yes, a great big bowl of poo

  4. Indolent Wretch

    Note to Journo, if you start an article with "I often find myself mystified by Evgeny Morozov and his writings." you may want to let us know who he is.

    I had to hover over one of the links before I found out it was something to do with the Guardian.

    There is no other mention of the word Guardian in the article and no other clues as far as I could see.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I had to hover over one of the links before I found out it was something to do with the Guardian.

      If only you had access to some sort of, I dunno, international collection of easily-retrieved information...

  5. h4rm0ny

    I do not think it means what you think it means...

    >>"Think about how absurd Morozov's argument actually is. Because tech doesn't reduce housing inequality, we should ignore the way that it doesn't reduce communications inequality?"

    I didn't see anything in the part you quoted that actually said what you say he said. He made a supportable point that consumption equality in one area isn't reducing other significant areas of inequality. I mean if there is a part immediately after what you quote that then goes "AND EVERYTHING OTHER THAN HOUSING IS IRRELEVANT", then it is legitimate to make your criticism. But does the person you're quoting actually say that or are they just, as I think they are, arguing that one cannot use Consumption Equality in one area as a rebuttal of criticism of rising wealth inequality (something which is real right now)? If the latter, then you're basically strawmanning.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

      Am I correct in thinking that Worstall thinks that because google provides search for free and we all have access to it, we should ignore the vast concentration of wealth tech companies like google create?

      Yes its free, but I'm not sure that my daughter picking up information via google on an ipod rather than a paper encyclopedia should allow me to disregard the billions being funnelled to Google and Apple, and the social issues that might create.

      1. John Sanders
        Holmes

        Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

        Economics lesson number one.

        Rich people are not rich because they have a money deposit full of it.

        Rich people normally have to move that money around, some times in the form of salaries they pay or rents, other times in the form of resources like a building, or a car/van/lorry.

        That inequality people talk about is just marxist propaganda.

        Of course there are people who live in poverty (curiously less than ever in history) and something should be done about it, however socialism is not the answer, read more history on your encyclopedias (and contrast the information please, never use a single source).

        1. dogged
          WTF?

          Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

          we should probably abolish taxation and legalize guns then?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

            @ dogged

            "we should probably abolish taxation and legalize guns then?"

            Not sure what comment that refers to but I am liking it.

        2. Paul Hampson 1

          Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

          So you believe the welfare state (you know socialism) has not provided any answer to poverty despite the fact since its existance poverty has fallen? And you can cite two sources to prove this can you?

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

      Wealth inequality is a nonsense. I'm one of the poorest people on the planet according to my wealth, but in actuality I have extremely high levels of comfort to go along with my high net debt. This makes my wealth less than a subsistence farmer, who at least owns his land outright and has positive wealth.

      It is a nonsense pushed out to make for interesting headlines. The fastest way to reduce wealth inequality would be to forbid people to take out mortgages. This doesn't make their lives better, is worse in the long run, it just moves people from negative wealth and good long term prospects to positive wealth and no long term prospects.

      That is clearly nonsense, it just demonstrates what an intrinsically bad metric "wealth" is to measure the inequalities that exist in society.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

        >>"Wealth inequality is a nonsense. I'm one of the poorest people on the planet according to my wealth, but in actuality I have extremely high levels of comfort to go along with my high net debt."

        Wealth != Money. I can own a house, a computer and all sorts of goodies yet have zero or negative money. I would still rank extremely high in terms of wealth on the world scale.

        >>"The fastest way to reduce wealth inequality would be to forbid people to take out mortgages"

        Well no, it wouldn't. That would just mean that only the rich could afford to buy property and many who currently buy be forced into perpetually renting from those rich. No idea how you believe the above.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I do not think it means what you think it means...

          >>"The fastest way to reduce wealth inequality would be to forbid people to take out mortgages"

          Only because of the unique way in which wealth inequality is calculated - or reported.

          Take a capital city where houses are so expensive that people take out 100year multi-generational mortgages and spend 3/4 of their take home pay on repayments.

          Compare a city principality where the crown prince owns all the housing but rents it out cheaply. The entire population of millionaire f1 drivers and tax exiles spend all their money on fast cars and drink.

          Which has biggest wealth inequality ?

  6. x 7

    what a waste of bandwidth

    commentary abut someone no-one has heard of, by someone no-one has heard of, about a subject no-one is interested in

    frivilous self-aggrandising tosh by all on so many levels

    1. The Stormcrow

      A waste of bandwidth, indeed

      What a masterly summation of the internet. Well done, sir!

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      "I am x 7, and I have no idea that there exist any people who are not exactly like me."

      To be fair, many people are self-involved idiots like you. But not all of them, and even the self-involved idiots have a wide variety of opinions and interests.

  7. x 7

    and better title for this thread would have been....

    "Whats the point of Tim Worstall"??

    1. 1Rafayal

      I am glad someone has finally said this

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Morozov can certainly make his arguments better than Worstall who presumably has the column on El Reg because he's mates with the owners.

      I don't agree with everything Morozov says but he does make some good points and even when I don't agree with him he has made me reassess some of the positions I do hold. For example, one of his main points in The Net Delusion is how entertainment (in the broadest sense) for the masses is equivalent of the Roman panem et circenses in this day and age: a distraction that among other things serves to prevent political opposition forming. I don't think either Facebook or YouTube were founded with this is mind but as long as people are arguing about what someone's wearing, what's the best or worst, they are <bold>not</bold> engaged in political action.

      Worstall on the other hand just spouts bar room clickbait. Is it any surprise that he has already stood for UKIP?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        For example, one of his main points in The Net Delusion is how entertainment (in the broadest sense) for the masses is equivalent of the Roman panem et circenses in this day and age

        This would be a more impressive observation if it hadn't been made by approximately every critical theorist since the Frankfort School. Even the biggest proponents of democratic discourse, like Habermas, have noted that mass culture tends to reinforce the status quo. Some, such as Bahktin, make exceptions for particular modes of cultural expression,1 but I don't think anyone competent who's actually thought about the matter has blithely declared that all online goofing about has some radical liberating force.

        1Bahktin's celebration of the carnivalesque and similar theses don't hold up well under closer examination, as in for example Stallybrass & White's work. On the other hand, some of the post-Lacanian theorists, like Deluze & Guattari or Zizek, think that subjects can go past repression into a new mental political space by luxuriating in those symptoms. I'm staying out of that debate these days.

    3. Tim Worstal

      To be Tim Worstall. At least that's what I take it to be.

      1. x 7

        not much to aspire to then from your point of view

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      and better title for this thread would have been....

      "Whats the point of Tim Worstall"??

      What a pity you are forced to read his articles. Of course, it's a much greater pity that you feel obliged to comment on them, though it does give those of us who are capable of critical thought an opportunity to snipe at a fool.

      1. x 7

        nothing forced me to read it

        I read it because it was there, in the assumption that anything published by "The Register" would be worthwhile. In the event that assumption proved fallacious. What I read was a pointless pile of self-indulgent self-promoting self-reverential garbage which deserved to be flagged as such. Hopefully my doing so enabled others to avoid making the same mistake of reading it.

        And FWIW, I identify you as Worstals sock puppet and I claim my £5

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          And FWIW, I identify you as Worstals sock puppet and I claim my £5

          You just get stupider with every post, don't you?

          A quick comparison of my posting history and Worstal's articles easily demonstrates that we have different writing styles, areas of expertise, interests, and beliefs.

  8. jzlondon

    You know what else is annoying?

    Rambling essays which appear to have started halfway through with no introduction to the subject matter or the background. Who the fuсk is Evgeny Morozov?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: You know what else is annoying?

      What a lot of people here get cranky when not spoon-fed with every detail. Truly you lot lead hard lives.

  9. DragonLord

    I think that both points are valid. However wealth inequality is more than just being able to afford a house in a nice area, it's also being able to live in an area with the facilities that you need. If you've got children and you live 50 miles away from the nearest school because you can't afford to live closer... Or you're living next to a land fill site because you can't afford anything anywhere else, or even you're living 2 hours away from where you work because the houses that are nearer where you work are more expensive and there's no work near you. These are all examples of how consumption equality do not help wealth equality.

    If you're lucky enough to be able to work from home, then the cheaper capital prices on houses aren't offset by the increased costs of commuting (time and fuel). If you can't then these costs can be a massive burden.

    1. DragonLord

      Just to add, that renting is also a form of wealth inequality because you are throwing money into a pit that you're never going to see a return on, while if you own a home at least you have better guarantees that no-one is going to be able to remove you from your home for reasons outside your control. But counter to that, you are now responsible for the upkeep of the building...

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @ DragonLord

        "Just to add, that renting is also a form of wealth inequality because you are throwing money into a pit that you're never going to see a return on"

        When rents were reasonable you were getting a roof over your head at a price lower than a mortgage. Even now that can be the case but rents have shot up due to the last gov. If you buy a house you are tied down to the location of that property and paying for its maintenance. The return associated with a house assumes it will increase in value. So far that has happened but requires the gov to continue to avoid new building and open immigration. In the end how does the rise in property value compare to the amount you sink into it to keep it standing and make it suit your needs? And then you have the labour party looking to wipe out housing valued around £1m just for fun.

        Tenancy laws tend to be a problem for landlords because it is easy to abuse but hard and expensive to deal with. Assuming inequality through home ownership is dependent on the persons goals. The key problem I see with renting is when the last gov distorted the market and caused prices to shoot up.

        1. DragonLord

          Re: @ DragonLord

          Even when renting is cheaper than buying, it's still a sunk cost that you have to pay forever rather than buying where eventually you own the property free and clear. With both properties you still have most of the same bills, however you do need to arrange your own maintenance if you own your own home (which could be buying a ladder, paint, brushes and DIY). Equally though you have no power to redecorate if you don't like the carpets or wallpaper.

          Unless you value mobility more than you value stability and you are actually going to move house a lot, renting will almost always come out more expensive once you take into account the costs of moving and time sunk into finding somewhere to relocate to.

        2. jzlondon

          Re: @ DragonLord

          Renting is always more expensive than owning in the long term. Otherwise, why would landlords be in business? Most landlords use mortgages to buy their properties.

          Renting provides housing for people who can't raise the capital required to buy. It's necessary. But let's not pretend that it's financially as rewarding as ownership in the long term. It isn't.

  10. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    And once again...

    ... Tim Worstall cherry picks a bit of someone else's writing and then uses it to build a Straw Man around so he can knock it down and show the "superiority" of his position.

    For instance the article he (eventually) links to says:

    "To take advantage of all the opportunities offered to us by Silicon Valley – including such fancy-sounding projects as Internet.org – one must first agree to share one’s data in exchange for free services. One has to be very naive to believe that this data is not going to shape how we live the rest of our lives, especially when insurance companies and banks are so eager to incorporate it in their decision-making."

    Now I think most El Reg readers accept that the massive data agglomeration by the Googles, Facebooks and so on of this world is not necessarily a good thing for *us*, yet TW ignores this point completely.

    TW then says "that consumption inequality of tech products has been falling", but the article also says: "It conceals the fact that the nominally free information available on Google is not equally useful to an unemployed graduate and a secretive hedge fund with access to sophisticated technology to turn data into trading insights", yet he ignores this too, seeming to think that we should be content with the Bread and Circuses we are offered and ignore the man behind the curtain.

    TW makes a dig: "how clever a Morozov can be in uncovering the feet of clay of our current gods" but what, exactly, is wrong with this?

    Should we sleepwalk blithely into a future where we find that we have given away control of our data and our lives to businesses which have no accountability to us or, possibly indeed, our elected governments (see TTIP etc for details)?

    These corporations have no interest in our well-being, only in what we can do for their bottom lines and that is something that can be seen by looking at what happened with the "well they did it in the past, so it must be ok" Barons such as Carnegie, JP Morgan and Rockefeller to name a few who made their money by screwing the little guys who worked for them and buying out or bankrupting their competition simply so they could increase their own bloated fortunes even more.

    As George Satayana said: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, yet that is what Tim Worstall seems to want to happen.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: And once again...

      Well, yes, it's a pretty weak rebuttal - indeed, not much of a rebuttal at all, since (as you note) it doesn't address most of Morozov's points. On the other hand, Morozov's piece is also pretty trivial. Probably necessarily so, given the forum, but still there's so little substance that it's hardly worth defending. As other commentators have noted, Morozov's argument here basically comes down to "techno-utopians are pretty naive and material inequality is still important", while Tim's is little more than "hey but technology has reduced poverty". Both are true; both are facile.

      It is entirely possible to acknowledge and understand that ICT has, in various domains, reduced poverty and promoted liberty, and that in others it has done the opposite. And that shouldn't be at all surprising to anyone with even the vaguest conception of how hegemonic capitalism works. Nor should any such person arrive at any conclusion other than that hegemonic capitalism is Pretty Complicated and does not, therefore, admit of simple solutions to its problems. Techno-utopians and anti-techno-utopians are equally, and similarly, deluded in believing otherwise.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sure, Jobs and Bezos have loadsamoney, but their fortunes aren't out of line with those made by the pioneers of the steel industry, oil, aerospace and so on. Nor, in fact, out of line with those made by entirely different technological changes, like the Normans, whose cavalry and castles conquered England. Odo, brother of William the Bastard, has been estimated to have owned 11 per cent of the entire output of the country.

    Exactly! If it was good enough for medieval feudalism, it's good enough for me!

  12. hplasm Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    Nobody called it "The Grauniad"...

  13. John Lilburne

    Pissing off the libertarians ...

    ... is a worthwhile exercise in its own right.

    However, it appears that Evgeny Morozov is having a pop at Net Neutrality here and as such he is probably correct that "equalising access to communication services" is a bit of tech company spin to get us to give them another wad of cash in the form of a subsidy. Lets take wikipedia zero, where comms companies don't make data charges for wikipedia access, net neutrality would says that this is illegal as it favours one form of traffic over another. Why should data downloaded from wikipedia be free and data downloaded from a university site be charged for? It favours one source of communication over all others, and in effect disadvantages any newcomers to the market.

  14. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    I often find myself mystified by Evgeny Morozov and his writings. I find it terribly difficult to work out what he's actually for, or what worldview it is that he thinks he's propagating.

    Having never read any of his other writings and only the article on the guardian I can only assume Evgeny is lost and confused at the world and by the world. I am amused by-

    Death of starvation is still a possibility but death of content starvation is no longer in the cards.

    Yes it is possible if you are in a poorly run care-home or NHS hospital (in the UK) but as I understand it there are many food supplying charities and soup kitchens in existence which makes the starvation unlikely. And by having greater access to information you also by the same rule have greater access to help. And so have less chance of falling so far due to the abundance of information and assistance for problems. Compare that to places with genuine population starvation problems and they have nowhere to go nor information to find help.

    He does seem stumped at the concept of market-

    one must first agree to share one’s data in exchange for free services

    Yes trade is based on a transfer of goods. If you dont have money you may have something else, such as time, skills or data. The service is free as in cost no money. As for the bit quoted by Tim, it seems Evgeny wants an all or nothing approach. Equality of consumption isnt enough for him, he demands giving away free homes and food. Basically a thick socialist argument than reasoned or thought through. Silicon Valley has nothing to do with food and homes, but there are already shelters for the homeless and food for the hungry which are provided by others instead of one great behemoth resembling something like a government. An entity that demands more to live up to the expectations of free stuff for the voters while quietly stuffing their hand into peoples pockets and running away with what they can grab.

  15. sandman

    Happily resorting to dogmatism :-)

    I'm going to get into the spirit. Tim can't be a "lackey dog capitalist running pig". As any Maoist knows the correct expression is "A Capitalist running dog* and a lackey of US Imperialism". He's pretty likely to also be a revisionist and a paper tiger.

    * possibly of course a bloated one...

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Happily resorting to dogmatism :-)

      "A Capitalist running dog"

      Yeah, but that's a cliche by now and as that little book "How to Write A Column" I have secreted away says, always try to mix up cliches to make them new.

      didn't work then, eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Happily resorting to dogmatism :-)

        "That hoary old cliche again. I told him to find a new one. "

        Jim Hacker

      2. jzlondon

        Re: Happily resorting to dogmatism :-)

        I got the joke. It wasn't funny though.

  16. Tom 13

    Tim, if there's a weakness in the argument you've presented here

    it's in the assumption that cities have higher real wealth than rural areas. I've lived in both and the truth is, I had a better life in the rural area than the city where I live now. Wages were lower, but so were almost all costs food, housing, taxes, even medical costs. About the only thing that was consistently priced from city to rural was ironically computer equipment. Where I grew up, $7.50 bought a person a good meal at a sit down diner (including tip). When I moved to the city the same amount of money got me a Big Mac meal at McDonald's.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Tim, if there's a weakness in the argument you've presented here

      A load of bunk. Goods and services are frequently more expensive in rural areas due to lack of competition and cost (monetary and time) of travelling to alternate providers that are cheaper.

      In London, with in 5 minutes of my house I can walk to 8 different shops that will sell me a litre of milk. All of them are around the same price, because if they weren't, they wouldn't get trade. The convenience stores that are open 24x7x365 charge a little more, but I can pop in to them at 3 AM on Christmas Eve and still get milk and bread.

      Where I grew up in rural Suffolk, within 5 minutes walk I can get to a cow. 10 minutes in a car gets you to the nearest store - the only store for 8 miles in any direction - where you can buy milk for about 50% more than it costs than in Tesco. If you want a supermarket, its a 25 minute drive in the opposite direction, costing you a fiver in petrol.

      Speaking of petrol, you'd better fill up at that supermarket, because everywhere else is 5-10p a litre more expensive. If they are still open, that is.

      1. a cynic writes...

        Re: Tim, if there's a weakness in the argument you've presented here

        It depends on your definition of rural Tom.

        Back in the mists of time when I met my missus I lived in Bermondsey. I now live in the centre of a largish village on the far side of Essex. Granted we haven't got eight shops open all hours, we've three and they shut at 10. But the prices are about the same and Tesco & Asda deliver for less than the cost of the petrol to get to them. So whilst it feels rural to me, it probably wouldn't to you.

        Best of all as we move to remote working I will be in the position of being paid London rates whilst living in a 4 bed cottage costing the same as a one-bed flat in Bermondsey.

  17. Paul Hampson 1

    1) "Given that Facebitchbook and Google are free to use then there's not in fact any inequality at all between our access to these things. So I do argue that, given that I think consumption inequality is the most important of the three, inequality is falling as a result of the digital revolution; that tech that y'all spend your time upon."

    -So you say "consumption inequality" is falling as a result of the digital revolution

    While citing :

    "Silicon Valley, after all, has done little to equalise things like home ownership and there is no prospect of it ever disrupting the world of real estate."

    -Which shows Morozov believes that the effect of the digital sector is only marginally important considering that its affects have very little knock (he uses Real estate as an example I believe).

    Would you like to offer a real reason that why "consumption inequality" is falling overall as a result of the the digital revolution, such as the manner in which free email reduces the effects of poor diet (which are said to be increasing) , or how every body having access to the same web browser (assuming when you say 'everyone' you mean westerners who care to use the internet) balances early death becaue you can't afford the same medicines as the rich?

    2) "is that there's three different types of inequality". Unfotunately, there are more types of inequality than 3 such as 'inequality of opportunity' (why do Eton dropouts stil do better that state school graduates?)

    3) "Simply being around lots of other human beings increases economic output as there's more interaction and experimentation. That's also what makes housing more expensive in cities."

    -Is it really? In that case I assume you can cite rearch that shows the cost of housing is directly related to economic output? So by your reckoning Monaco's economuic output is double Londons and nearly 10 time's Berlin's (here http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/most-expensive-cities)

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @ Paul Hampson 1

      I will have a shot-

      "Would you like to offer a real reason that why "consumption inequality" is falling overall as a result of the the digital revolution"

      Cheaper, faster, better. Technology falling in price quickly as new stuff replaces it making it abundantly available to those who could not previously afford it (e.g. firefox phones for africa). It means people have communications and information availability above what they had before.

      "such as the manner in which free email reduces the effects of poor diet"

      Why email? Greater access to information allows us to choose our diet and know the pro's/con's. It makes it easy to trade tips in food prep and allergy advice.

      "or how every body having access to the same web browser balances early death becaue you can't afford the same medicines as the rich?"

      But you can have access to the same medical information and advice. This is a huge advancement.

      "Unfotunately, there are more types of inequality than 3 such as 'inequality of opportunity'"

      Very true. However thanks to the improved nature of communications and information people have more opportunity now. They have the access to train up on new skills, search far and wide for opportunities and to expand their list of contacts which increases the pool of vacancies even across state lines or even countries borders.

      "Is it really? In that case I assume you can cite rearch that shows the cost of housing is directly related to economic output?"

      More economic output generally means more jobs, more employment, more people, better wages and so higher prices. Why is it more expensive to live in london than manchester? Why do people pile on people pile on people to live in what I consider a cramped hellhole at vastly more expensive pricing and increasing? It is usually cheaper to live outside of a city (within reason) but then there will be less jobs and less people. Your comparison of cities across the world ignores the factors of the country, it would be more fair to compare the city vs non-city in the same country/state.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    without "victims"

    then no one can get rich and/or powerful by simply advocating the saving of those victims.

    It also makes it hard to be "proud" if you have to look into the mirror and acknowledge that your current position and failings are your own fault. Self esteem uber alles, apparently.

    Problem is, without self acknowledgement, there is neither incentive nor means to improve. So you can do nothing but whinge, and empower the charismatic putz who is "standing up for you".

  19. John Savard Silver badge

    Point

    Evgeny Morozov's point is obvious, having read his Guardian column. While digital tech may help somewhat in creating more equality, this is being over-hyped, and it's not going to solve the serious existing problems of inequality we face any time soon. So it won't "make those old debates irrelevant".

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Point

      @ John Savard

      That is the same as complaining that while things are vastly improving there will always be a problem to be found somewhere. The best part of the inequality problem is it is unsolvable. Unless everyone has the same as everyone else there will be a problem of inequality. But when everyone gets the same it is always much less than they want and so is a problem

  20. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Meh

    Why the rant Tim?

    I've never knowingly read any of Morozov's stuff (my Portuguese is a bit rusty), but the article referenced doesn't seem to be very contentious.

    A few comments on how Silicon Valley tends to oversell tech solutions to problems, and some cautionary advice on how information can have a different value to different groups, depending on what they (can) do with it.

    Did I miss something?

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Why the rant Tim?

      1 - He doesn't like Morozov's politics or philosophy in general.

      2 - He has a column deadline to hit.

      3 - Here's a recent column by Morozov.

      4 - That's it...One limp throwaway rant that merely fills space and earns him a a few hits and a little paycheck

  21. The Vociferous Time Waster

    We've all done it

    At school we got told off so we waited until the playground to say what we should have said back. At work we get hassle from our boss so we go home and tell our partners how we were right all along and in the pub when we get threatened by a big bloke we go put on some bravado to our mates. We all find a friendly and submissive audience when we have been challenged.

    This is no different, rather than pointing out why he thinks he is not wrong to the person who thinks he is wrong he just comes here and explains it to a placid audience who doesn't care.

  22. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Twitter

    this is a bit like slagging off a celeb on Twitter and using their handle in the hope they see it and respond - they usually don't

  23. Dan Paul

    Income Inequality is only the responsibility...

    of the one whose income is too low.

    Really, enough of the "feel good" politically correct BS and socialist baloney.

    If you don't make enough money, get a job, get another job or get a better one.

    IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.

    Being on the dole is not a lifestyle. That's only supposed to be temporary and was never to be for capable people.

    Stop feeling sorry for yourself and making excuses and get to work. Get an education, one way or another. Find the counterpoint to any excuse you can come up with.

    The world doesn't owe anyone a living, they need to make one for themselves.

    Single mothers with 9 toddlers and Handicap persons aside, if you can't even try to do that and you are an able bodied person then you are a failure as a human being and don't deserve to continue being one.

    1. InNY

      Re: Income Inequality is only the responsibility...

      I quite agree, those of us who have the advantages of highly successful lives, careers and large bank accounts; for whom a serious worry is which soy milk to put in our morning latte are just the people to explain what someone should do! After all, if that homeless person would only get a job, they wouldn't be homeless. Stands to reason.

      People like Morozov have it so wrong. These sort of people want everyone to have the same opportunities as any one else; they want the playing field leveled. They seek to destroy the only good thing to come out of the fifties, apart from proper slacks and shirts - the free markets of monopolistic corporate capitalism and the segregated chances of the successful discriminating people.

      All those people for whom life's circumstances have put them into a position whereby they cannot escape are just stupid and don't deserve the riches we, as successful human beings, are so rightly granted or seized.

      By gum, isn't stereotyping, especially when conducted without thought, favour, compassion, empathy or consideration, fun.

      I think I'll have the vanilla soy in my free trade coffee this afternoon. Now, shall I drink it at the espresso bar or take it with me whilst I set off to the very private, exclusive and expensive gym? Oh, the decisions that have to be made...

  24. ecofeco Silver badge

    Reduced inequality?

    85 people have the same amount of wealth as all the rest of world population combined.

    Yeah, that seems more equal to me. (I have nothing against being rich, just against dirt poor poverty and artificial, gamed and rigged markets)

  25. DougS Silver badge

    "that tech that y'all spend your time upon"

    True, people spend a lot of time on Facebook, and it is free, so even the poor have the same access to Facebook as Bill Gates.

    You're ignoring however that they might be spending all that time on Facebook BECAUSE it is free. Given a choice between spending a Saturday afternoon doing free activities like Facebook, watching TV, taking a walk in the park, taking a nap, and tooling around in a megayacht, many might pick the latter. If megayachts were sitting around in the harbor waiting for someone who wants to borrow one like so many Boris Bikes, there might be a lot of people who prefer that to Facebook.

    Though one of the big draws of a megayacht, equipping it with women with suggestive names who stick around until some sauve British spy comes along the sweeps them off their feet, would no longer result if the yachts were free for the taking by any old clod.

    The poor have always had equality to the rich in terms in certain things, and while that list may grow as technologies are invented that aren't so expensive they are limited to the megarich, that doesn't constitute greater equality unless they are things people want to do. When the poor don't have enough to eat, getting enough to eat makes a difference. When the poor get Facebook, just because they spend a lot of time on Facebook doesn't mean they've gained equality.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Tech and the City

    It should be inarguable to say that the improvement in tech over the centuries has improved the lot of everyone, even those who dont use it much.it has increased the total amount of available wealth to all.

    That is nothing to do with perceived wealth inequality which always exists - the Rich like the Poor are always with us.

    But weath inequality can't continually get greater there is always a limit beyond which lies very bad things - a quasi-communist / facist revolution is ony one of the possibilities - another fincial collapse is a distinct possibility.

    it might pay the elite to ensure that at least they dont own too much and share some of that power, you know democratically?

  27. Ramazan
  28. NeverMindTheBullocks

    Mummy...

    ... what was the point of this article?

  29. boatsman
    Pint

    1 percent used to own half the world 10 yrs ago. now they own 60+ percent

    thats what this Morozov guy is talking about. obviously, he doesnt quite get to the point like I can.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth

    quote from that:

    A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. The bottom half of the world adult population owned 1% of global wealth.[15] Moreover, another study found that the richest 2% own more than half of global household assets.[16]

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